Welcome the 113th U.S. Congress: systemically-corrupt, historically-gridlocked, incredibly unpopularJanuary 3, 2013 - by David Moore
Update, 7pm ET, Friday Jan. 4th, 2013: Data from the 113th Congress is now live on OpenCongress. Blog post coming soon on brand-new bills introduced over the past two days. Hey, if anyone wants to start an OC wiki list linking to profile pages of the 90 or so new members, feel free. Judging from our initial review, bill & member info is displaying correctly from GovTrack, and campaign contribution data from OpenSecrets (go team) will follow accordingly – we’ll keep our eyes out for bugs – if you noticed some slightly malformed info somewhere on the site, we’re happy to look into it – file a new ticket on our Lighthouse issue tracking system, assigned to me, drm, or email me at david at opencongress.org. We’ll get it fixed right away if anything looks amiss. Otherwise, feel free to browse bills & senators & reps off the top-hand navigation, and get familiar. Thank you for using OpenCongress, more to come.
The 112th U.S. Congress ended, as you likely know, with a sadsack pratfall of unaccountable public policymaking – a compromise between the two major parties avoiding the “fiscal curb” – via a vote on H.R. 8, specifically the House roll call 659 (257 aye, 167 nay, 8 abstain) – and previously by Senate roll call 251 (89 aye, 8 nay, 3 abstain). Browse some of the letters to Congress sent via OpenCongress.
What’s the record of the 112th Congress? Well, it almost shut down the government and almost breached the debt ceiling. It almost went over the fiscal cliff (which it had designed in the first place). It cut a trillion dollars of discretionary spending in the Budget Control Act and scheduled another trillion in spending cuts through an automatic sequester, which everyone agrees is terrible policy. It achieved nothing of note on housing, energy, stimulus, immigration, guns, tax reform, infrastructure, climate change or, really, anything. It’s hard to identify a single significant problem that existed prior to the 112th Congress that was in any way improved by its two years of rule.
The 112th, which was gaveled into being on Jan. 3, 2011, by newly elected House Speaker John Boehner, wasn’t just unproductive in comparison with the 111th. It was unproductive compared with any Congress since 1948, when scholars began keeping tabs on congressional productivity… The 112th Congress wasn’t merely unproductive: It was devastatingly counterproductive.
(Pictured at right – 112th House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH.)
Last weekend, the phenomenal reality-based “UP with Chris Hayes” news program on MSNBC (Chris being a friend-of-PPF, which is terrific) did a show on the “Fiscal Curb” (coinage his & theirs) – video here of their quality discussion.
More coverage – juicy details of the acrimonious negotiations summarized on Slatest, John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation blog post (“The Fiscal Cliff Process was an Atrocious, Secretive Mess”), Wonkblog Twitter list, our OC Congress Watchers Twitter list, my “Political Science” twitter list, my political economics Twitter list (feel free to subscribe to those).
Of course the 113th Congress is sworn in today- The Hill reports on its 90 new members – and our much-appreciated longtime data partner GovTrack has updated databases of the members that we’re ready to bring in as I type to display on OC. Big thanks as always to Dr. Josh Tauberer‘s vital work, and that of his collaborators in #opengovdata (Eric & Derek & others on GitHub, I see you guys). We’ll flip the switch when there are bills introduced – otherwise OC would lack bills to browse. So should be later today or tmw I reckon. More updates soon from the OC team.
Questions can go to me at david at opencongress.org, davidmooreppf on Skype, @ppolitics on micropublishing service. We look forward to continuing our educational efforts about what’s really happening in Congress, the money trail behind the corporate lobbyists who steer the discourse & leg. priorities & possibilities – and advancing our allies’ grassroots push for comprehensive electoral reform, strong ethics reform, immediate radical transparency in Congress (including in campaign donations), and more-fair elections, in part via the American Anti-Corruption Act (to mitigate our current status quo of systemic corruption & regulatory capture) – all towards a more networked public sphere and participatory democratic process, resulting in a higher gross national happiness & public faith in government & civic engagement.